The holiday season is right around the corner! For some folks, celebrating the holidays means jumping on an airplane and spending a few days with loved ones. Do you or your loved ones have travel plans for the holiday season?  If so, what about the pets? Will you take them with you on your travels, or will you leave them at home? If you plan on leaving your pets at home during the holidays, let’s talk about a few things to consider when boarding your pets.

Have You Boarded Your Pets Before?

If this is the first time you are boarding your pets, understand that this could be a confusing experience for them. Most pets don’t have a problem with a sleepover somewhere else. However, every pet reacts differently. It would be a good idea to do a trial overnight stay in advance to introduce your pet to the idea of staying somewhere else. The short stay will assure them you will be back to get them soon!

Call Well In Advance To Make Reservations

Depending on where you live, boarding kennels tend to fill up 2-3 weeks in advance of the holidays as folks are ensuring they have a spot reserved for their pets.  Don’t wait until the last week to board your pet’s reservation, or you may find that they do not have room for your pet!

Have You Checked With the Boarding Facility Regarding the Health Requirements for Pets Staying With Them?

Most boarding facilities require that your pets are current on all of their vaccinations. Some even require that your pet is on parasite control, such as a flea, tick, or heartworm preventative, or an internal parasite preventative (a wormer).  Check with the facility before it’s time to drop off your pets. If your pet does not have all the required health clearances, they could refuse to take your pet. 

Have You Visited the Facility?

Boarding facilities can vary significantly in pricing and accommodations. Make sure you understand where your pet will be staying, whether it is in a kennel or a private room, or someplace else. Visit the facility in advance to ensure it meets your expectations. Many people have expectations of their pet staying in a mini-hotel room or play area when, in reality, their pet might be staying in a kennel.

Any boarding facility should be happy to give you a tour and show you where your pet will be staying. If they are reluctant to do so, beware. However, understand that it does take time to ensure the facility is secure and that no pets are out while they’re trying to give you a tour. After all, they could be liable if a pet gets out or if you are injured at their facility. Furthermore, asking for a tour of the facility while you are trying to leave your pets might not be something they can accommodate at that moment. Plan on a visit before you drop your pets off.

 Have You Discussed Your Pet’s Routine With the Boarding Staff? Are They Able to Accommodate Your Pet’s Routine?

If your pet is typically outside all day, is that something the boarding facility can provide? If your pet is on any type of regular schedule, make sure the facility knows your expectations and can accommodate them. Furthermore, If your pet is on medications, have you checked to ensure the boarding staff is able and qualified to administer those medications? Some facilities will not give any medications unless they are offered with the pet’s food. Some facilities may only administer medications during a specific time of day, so double-check to make sure your pet’s individual needs can be addressed.

Are You Aware of the Scheduled Hours of Operation?

Most boarding facilities are not open 24 hours a day, meaning your pet is left unattended for a while.  Check with the facility so you are aware of their schedule and that it meets your expectations. It is a good idea to make sure you are aware of when to pick up your pet, as some facilities may not be open to the public on the holidays. Some facilities even have a designated time when you need to pick pets up before you are charged for another day of boarding.

Make Sure to Disclose Any Special Instructions in Regards to Your Pets.

Some pets do not get along well with others, and sadly this is not mentioned to the boarding facility until something happens. It’s essential to inform them if your pets have any temperament issues. That way, they can ensure your pets are not socialized with other pets.

Belongings, Beware!

If you are bringing any bedding, toys, or other personal belongings, be aware that your pet might soil or destroy them during their stay. Boarding can be a stressful experience for even a generally happy pet, as they are surrounded by unfamiliar people and unfamiliar pets. Most of the time, boarding facilities can be very loud as dogs are barking, and the staff is busy taking care of the pets. Sometimes, pets can get nervous and chew up their favorite toy or their bed, or even have an accident on their bed. Sometimes, the kennel may even misplace your pet’s belongings during a busy time as they are thrown in the laundry to be cleaned.  

Leave Emergency Contact Information, Including Your Veterinarian’s Information…

Make sure to leave the boarding facility with an emergency point of contact as well as your veterinarian’s information in case something happens during your pet’s stay.

Maybe You Have Discovered That A Boarding Kennel is Not A Good Option For Your Pet’s Needs. Now What?

If you have searched for a place to take your pet, but you have not found one that you feel comfortable with, there are other options. Do you have friends or family that could take care of your pet? Is there someone you know and trust that could either stay at your house while you are gone or stop by daily to check up on your pets?

There are also professional pet sitters available to come in and take care of your pets while you are gone. If you do not know of anyone to take care of your pet, call your veterinarian to see if they have anyone they could recommend. Check out websites such as Rover.com or wagwalking.com that allow you to search for a pet sitter in your area. If you are worried about a random person caring for your pet, both companies state that anyone listed on their website has undergone background checks.

Don’t Forget To Inform Your Veterinarian That You Will Be Out of Town.

Most veterinarians have a privacy policy with their clients, meaning that if someone calls regarding your pet, the veterinarian will not disclose any information to them. Make sure the veterinarian is aware that you will be out of town and who will be taking care of your pets.

Most Importantly, Enjoy Your Vacation, and Rest Assured That Your Pet is in Good Hands!

With proper planning and research, you will find a perfect boarding solution that will fit your pet’s lifestyle. Just know what you want for your pet, ask the right questions, and never be afraid to get a tour of where your pet will be staying! Now that you know your pet will be having their own mini-vacation, you can relax and enjoy your vacation!

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